JUDGE ORDERS R. KELLY TO LET IN­SPEC­TORS IN­SIDE RENTED WARE­HOUSE

Black-owned Chicago sta­tion pulls em­bat­tled singer off the air

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY SAM CHARLES, STAFF RE­PORTER [email protected]­times.com | @samjcharles

A Cook County judge on Fri­day granted the city’s re­quest to let in­spec­tors in­side a Near West Side ware­house rented by R&B su­per­star R. Kelly.

The in­spec­tion, how­ever, will not take place un­til noon on Wed­nes­day, Jan. 16.

Melvin Sims, rep­re­sent­ing Kelly, had ini­tially asked Judge Pa­trice Brown-Reed for 30 days to com­ply with any order she issued.

“It’s our be­lief that this is not an emer­gency,” Sims said dur­ing the brief hear­ing at the Da­ley Cen­ter.

Jamie Burns, an at­tor­ney for the com­pany that owns the prop­erty at 219 N. Justine St., dis­closed that the own­ers cur­rently do not have ac­cess to the build­ing.

“We don’t have a key,” Burns said. The decision from Brown-Reed came a day after the city filed an emer­gency mo­tion ask­ing the judge for ac­cess to the two-story ware­house.

At­tor­neys for the city con­tended that the build­ing was be­ing il­le­gally used as a record­ing stu­dio and a res­i­dence, de­spite the prop­erty only be­ing zoned for in­dus­trial uses.

“Upon in­for­ma­tion and be­lief it is be­ing used as a res­i­dence and artist workspace — specif­i­cally as a record­ing stu­dio in vi­o­la­tion of the zon­ing law,” city at­tor­neys said.

A call to the city’s 311 cen­ter, where some­one re­ported that peo­ple were liv­ing in the build­ing, prompted a Wed­nes­day evening visit from in­spec­tors with the city’s De­part­ment of Build­ings. They could be seen knock­ing on the build­ing’s win­dows and doors in an ef­fort to get in­side, but no one an­swered. They also shined a flash­light in­side. They de­clined to com­ment to re­porters.

A build­ings de­part­ment in­spec­tor tes­ti­fied that he and his col­leagues could see sealed win­dows and re­placed door­ways and that the build­ing “does not seem to be a ware­house.”

Po­lice sent to Kelly’s Trump Tower condo

Kelly was not at the hear­ing. But be­fore it even got un­der­way, Chicago Po­lice of­fi­cers went to his condo in Trump Tower about 10 a.m. Fri­day, said CPD spokesman An­thony Guglielmi. The visit came in re­sponse to an out-of-state caller who told the Cook County state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice that the singer was hold­ing women there against their will, Guglielmi said.

Upon ar­rival, of­fi­cers found Kelly there with two women, nei­ther of whom were there in­vol­un­tar­ily, po­lice said.

Of­fi­cers took no ac­tion and left.

Con­tentious press con­fer­ence

After rep­re­sent­ing Kelly in hous­ing court Fri­day, Sims called a press con­fer­ence at his of­fice at The Ten­ant Rights Group LLC. The meet­ing quickly turned con­tentious as Sims de­clined to an­swer most ques­tions.

“The par­ties to this lit­i­ga­tion — in­clud­ing the prop­erty owner and the ten­ant — are co­op­er­at­ing fully with the city of Chicago in en­sur­ing that all build­ing code and zon­ing mea­sures at the sub­ject premises do re­main com­pli­ant,” he said.

Mid­west Com­mer­cial Fund­ing LLC, which owns the build­ing, and the bank that issued the mort­gage were named as de­fen­dants in the city’s emer­gency mo­tion. Kelly was not named in the fil­ing, though other de­fen­dants were listed as “ten­ants & oc­cu­pants.” Kelly is the only ten­ant of the 8,000-square-foot build­ing.

The city’s re­quest to in­spect the build­ing came just days after an­other county judge or­dered Kelly be evicted from the build­ing. Mid­west Com­mer­cial Fund­ing sued Kelly last sum­mer, al­leg­ing he owed the com­pany nearly $80,000 in back rent.

Mon­day, the judge ruled in Mid­west Com­mer­cial Fund­ing’s fa­vor, court records show, is­su­ing an “order of pos­ses­sion” for Mid­west Com­mer­cial Fund­ing.

A spokes­woman for the Cook County sher­iff ’s of­fice — the agency that han­dles evic­tions in the county — said the of­fice had not yet re­ceived the judge’s evic­tion order as of Fri­day af­ter­noon and it was un­clear when it would be ex­e­cuted.

Sims said Fri­day that the evic­tion was part of an “agreed order” and that “there was no award of any kind.”

Cook County court records show that on Jan. 7, a judge en­tered an award for Mid­west Com­mer­cial Fund­ing for $166,981. Dig­i­tal copies of en­tries made in the case on Mon­day were not yet pub­licly avail­able as of Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Asked if he could pro­vide re­porters with copies of the order, Sims de­clined, say­ing: “I’m gonna leave that to you guys and to your re­sources, but I will say that I’m the at­tor­ney of record on the case. I was in­volved in the ne­go­ti­a­tions of the set­tle­ment, and that evic­tion mat­ter was set­tled by an agreed order.”

Cook County Cir­cuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s of­fice did not re­spond to a re­quest for those fil­ings and Burns, the at­tor­ney for Mid­west Com­mer­cial Fund­ing, did not re­spond to ques­tions about the evic­tion on Thurs­day.

Sims also de­clined to iden­tify Kelly as his client, de­spite the R&B star be­ing the only ten­ant of the build­ing on Justine. He con­cluded his four­minute press avail­abil­ity by walk­ing out of the room as re­porters yelled ques­tions at him.

ASH­LEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES

A fire de­part­ment of­fi­cial at­tempts to get ac­cess to a ware­house rented by R. Kelly this week.

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